Monday, October 14, 2019

Amazon MatchBook Ending

Amazon is shutting down its Kindle MatchBook program at the end of the month. MatchBook is a little-known arrangement whereby purchase of the print book gives you the right to purchase the Kindle version at a great discount (usually not more than $2.99). If you have ever bought a print book from Amazon and you might have interest for a Kindle version, you can click here to find out what books qualify and their prices. I have about 100 books available in my list, and I plan to purchase a few before I’m no longer able to.

This has extra relevance for readers here because Psalm 23: A Photo Commentary, written by Steven Anderson and me, is in the MatchBook program, and the cost is free. That means that when you purchase the print book, you get the Kindle edition at no charge. The Kindle version looks beautiful on a tablet or computer (but not so much on a black-and-white Kindle since the book is filled with color photos).

The short point here is that if you want the free Kindle book ($9.99 separately), you lose that option in a couple of weeks.

One trick, if you’re a Kindle user, is to buy the print book to give as a gift and keep the Kindle version for yourself.

Screenshot from the Kindle book


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Saturday, October 12, 2019

Weekend Roundup

“The rare ancient tomb of a wealthy Minoan woman has been discovered at a monumental archaeological complex on the Greek island of Crete.”

“Archaeologists have revealed the face of an Egyptian princess who lived almost 4,000 years ago by painstakingly piecing together the wooden shards of her sarcophagus.”

A study of legal texts from Susa reveals how elderly parents ensured that their children took care of them.

“A replica Phoenician vessel made in Syria is sailing the Atlantic to prove the ancient civilisation did it 2,000 years before Columbus.”

The Biblical Archaeology Society has announced their 2019 Publication Awards Winners.

A review of a new work from Oxford: Peter Mitchell, The Donkey in Human History: An Archaeological Perspective.

“Persepolis, Then & Now” is the title of a conference at NYU on November 21.

The latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review includes articles on the Assyrian relief at Sela, the search for portraits of Herod, and hiking in Paul’s footsteps.

Bible Land Passages has just released a new video, “Go Now to Shiloh.” Here’s what you’ll see: “This full-length documentary complete with on-site interviews, a behind the scenes look at the process of archaeology, analysis of the newest and most exciting discoveries to date, reenactments, computer generated graphics and illustrations, and numerous biblical connections and faith building lessons.”

Appian Media has launched its ‘inRoads’ podcast, and they have made it available via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, as well as video versions on Facebook and YouTube. If you sign up to be a supporter this month, you get a beautiful free coffee mug.

The Biblical Archaeology Society is having an inventory clearance sale on Carta and IES books, with the best prices on some items I’ve seen. Some examples, all of which I recommend:

  • Leen Ritmeyer, The Quest ($30)
  • Carta’s Illustrated Josephus ($30)
  • The Carta Bible Atlas ($25)
  • Jerusalem: Biblical Archaeology Map ($9)
  • New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, 4 vols. ($100)

There’s still time to catch the second of the two-day Oriental Institute Indiana Jones Film Festival.

Carl Rasmussen has begun a series on hippodromes/circuses, with part 1 and part 2 of what happened there, featuring some beautiful photos of a splendid ancient mosaic in France.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto this week is of the Siq and Treasury at Petra.

What do we know about Pontius Pilate from archaeology? Bryan Windle pulls it all together in the latest entry in his Archaeological Biography series.

HT: Agade, Keith Keyser

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Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: Hezekiah’s Wall and Herod’s Palace

There is an Israeli police station today just inside Jaffa Gate to the right. The Israelis took it over from the Jordanians who used it for the same purpose. The Jordanians inherited it from the British Mandate authorities. One of the buildings of this complex is known as the Kishle. The Kishle served as the prison during British Mandate times. Before the British, the building served the Ottoman police force. And before them, this was the location of the Roman legion charged with keeping the peace in the centuries following the Jewish Revolt. And below that archaeologists have discovered foundations of King Herod’s palace.

There’s clearly a pattern here, and it’s likely related to the geography. This area is the high ground on the Western Hill, and it provides a commanding position of the surrounding area. Unfortunately all of this construction has made uncovering earlier remains difficult. In fact, in the conclusion of the article being summarized here, the archaeologist soberly notes that all that left of Herod’s great palace are scattered remnants of its podium.
Kishle building from the north

Amit Re’em excavated the Kishle in 2000 and 2001, and his report in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed provides a summary of his discoveries. The article is succinct and well-illustrated, moving from the earlier periods to the later ones. My focus here will be the same as that named in the title of the article, “First and Second Temple Period Fortifications and Herod’s Palace in the Jerusalem Compound.”

Kishle interior

What gets me most excited about this excavation is not the foundations of Herod’s palace but a large section of wall constructed by Hezekiah. If you have studied Jerusalem’s history, you know of the “Broad Wall,” a 25-foot-wide fortification located today in the middle of the Jewish Quarter. What Re’em revealed is more of this same wall, but on the western side of the Western Hill. This is valuable because this is now only the second portion of this wall discovered to date. (This point is a useful illustration of how relatively little is either preserved or accessible in Jerusalem today.)

A length of about 50 feet was exposed, preserved to a height of 8 to 9 feet. That’s not as big as the “Broad Wall” portion, but it’s quite substantial. The construction was also impressive, as the wall was made of “large, well-trimmed stones (90x35 cm.) laid in header/stretcher fashion in the best tradition of First Temple period fortification construction.”
City wall from time of King Hezekiah

But then Re’em goes a step further, claiming that the common view that Jerusalem’s Western Hill was quickly populated with exiles from Samaria is wrong. I think it’s best to hear his claim in his own words:
The new finds from the Kishle contradict [previous] researchers’ conclusion that Jerusalem, limited to the area [of] the City of David and the Temple Mount, rapidly developed to occupy the Western Hill as a result of a mass influx of refugees to Judah and Jerusalem following the Assyrian destruction of the northern Kingdom of Israel at the end of the 8th century BCE. The settlement process on the Western Hill appears to have been gradual, beginning during the first half of the 8th century BCE.
Unfortunately he moves straight on to the next subject without giving a scrap of evidence for his conclusion. I would say that there is evidence in the Bible, usually ignored, that indicates that Jerusalem’s Western Hill was not only settled earlier in the 8th century, but it was also fortified! I think I’ll follow Re’em’s example by throwing that out there and then just moving on.

The Kishle excavations also revealed some of the “First Wall,” built by the Hasmoneans in the 2nd century. Re’em uncovered remains of this wall that were 16 feet wide and exposed for a length of 75 feet. It may be noted that all of these excavations are constrained by the walls of the elongated structure of the Kishle.

From Herod’s palace we have some walls, and the article gives the dimensions, the most interesting of which is one that was preserved to a height of 22 feet. The discussion here is not much more than a page long, and the bottom line is that when you combine results from this dig with others in the area, it is clear that Herod’s palace was massive in size, covering the area of the Citadel, the Kishle, the Armenian Garden, and most of today’s Armenian Quarter.

Foundation wall of Herod's palace

The final section of this article surveys discoveries from later periods, including a Late Roman channel, medieval dyeing vats, a wall that is probably Ayyubid, and graffiti inscribed by prisoners held by the British Mandate authorities.


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Monday, October 07, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 3

Archaeologists have uncovered the largest Early Bronze city in Israel. The site of En Esur is 160 acres in size and is located 7 miles (11 km) east of Caesarea.

A lengthy inscription discovered at Pompeii in 2017 has been translated. It describes a “massive coming-of-age party for a wealthy young man.”

In the ruins of the ancient Hittite capital, there is a large, beautiful green rock that is a mystery to archaeologists and visitors.

Christopher Rollston is using multispectral imagery to study ostraca discovered at Macherus in 1968.

“The British Library, the largest national library in the world by number of items cataloged, has for the first time ever put some of its rarest and most ancient religious texts online for the general public to be able to access them from around the world.”

In a 2015 article for a special edition of the BBC History Magazine now published online, Aren Maeir identifies 10 key discoveries from the Holy Land. (It seems to me to be cheating for one of those to be “the discoveries of Jerusalem.”)

A portion of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums has reopened after years of renovations.

250,000 objects from the Louvre will be moved over the next four years to a non-public storage facility in northern France.

A student volunteer describes her experiences at Hazor in the last three years.

Wayne Stiles recently led a tour to Rome, and he shares some of his observations and reflections here.

JJ Routley argues that there is such a thing as Christian archaeology.

Bryan Windle has begun a new series of archaeological biographies, and the first subject is King Hezekiah.

The Getty Trust is devoting $100 million over the next 10 years to protect endangered historical sites around the world through dialogue and conservation.

If you would like to volunteer for a winter excavation in Israel, registration is now open for the February season at Timna.

A new survey is aiming to shed light on the Nabateans who lived in what is now Saudi Arabia.

The Wadi Shuʿaib Archaeological Survey Project (WSAS) is a new project in the area northwest of Amman, Jordan.

Bryan Windle has posted a resource review of the Photo Companion to the Gospels, with a focus on how he has used the Luke volume in his preaching.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Keith Keyser, Explorator

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Sunday, October 06, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Tourism:

National Geographic has a beautifully illustrated article on the history of Jerash (ancient Gerasa).

Saudi Arabia is now giving visas to foreign tourists.

A $6 million, 9-year project has made much of Jerusalem’s Old City accessible to wheelchairs. And now you can rent a golf cart at Jaffa Gate (for $100/hour).

The entry fee for Rome’s Colosseum is jumping to €16.

Ferrell Jenkins shares a number of photos from his visit to the Brook Besor.

The first photograph of the Acropolis of Athens was taken in 1842.

I enjoyed talking about my visit to Susa on The Book and the Spade. Part 2 is now posted.

Lectures:

Peter Machinist will be lecturing on “Assyria and the Hebrew Bible: A Reassessment” at NYU on Nov 14. Registration required.

Felix Höflmayer, Katharina Streit, & Lyndelle Webster will be lecturing at the Albright Institute on Oct 31 at 4:00. Their topic:  The Austrian-Israeli Expedition to Lachish After Three Years of Excavation.

Videos:

New series on YouTube: “The Holy Land: Connecting the Land with Its Stories is a nine-episode series hosted by Dr. John (Jack) Beck that takes you to regions throughout Israel to experience the land, the culture, and the customs that surround the sacred stories of the Bible.” The first two episodes have been released, and you can see a 2-minute special feature about Jerusalem here.

The latest video from Biblical Israel Ministries and Tours: “It Happened Here” - Life Lessons from Israel: Beth Shemesh (6 min).

Appian Media is posting regularly to their YouTube channel, including some behind-the-scenes videos.

We’ll have more in part 3 tomorrow.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Keith Keyser, Explorator

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Saturday, October 05, 2019

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Discoveries:

Tablets excavated at Gezer and the nearby Tel Hadid indicate that Israelites were not living in the area following the Assyrian invasions in the late 8th century BC (Haaretz premium).

A new study by Tel Aviv University has determined that the kingdom of Edom was flourishing in the 12th and 11th centuries BC, led in part by a high-tech copper network. The underlying journal article is available here.

Tin ingots from the 13th-12th centuries BC discovered near Haifa were apparently mined in Cornwall, England.

“Egyptian authorities have unintentionally discovered several historical monuments dating back to the Greco-Roman and Ptolemaic era in roughly 20 archaeological sites in the east and middle of Alexandria.”

A temple of Ptolemy IV was discovered in northern Sohag, Egypt, while drilling for a sewage drainage project.

An archaeologist in Aphrodisias, Turkey, discovered a Roman milestone that had long been used as a table base in a coffee shop.

Excavators continue to work to expose the forum area in ancient Alexandria Troas.

Nadav Shragai reports on the Adonijah seal impression and other discoveries that have come as a result of the excavations at the foundations of the western wall of the Temple Mount.

Museums and Exhibits:

The Bank of Israel in Jerusalem has opened an archaeological exhibit featuring “several spectacular ancient coin caches,” one of which includes more than 10,000 large coins.

Two Roman statues discovered last year near Beth Shean are joining the permanent collections of the Gan Hashlosha–Sahne Museum.

The largest-ever exhibition of treasure from King Tut’s tomb will be on display at the Saatchi Gallery from November 2, 2019 to May 3, 2020.

The Palestinian Museum in Bir Zeit recently won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. The museum does not have a permanent collection.

New York’s Metropolitan Museum is returning a beautiful gold coffin of a high-ranking priest to Egypt after learning the item was stolen and its import papers forged.

Books:

Available at a pre-pub discount on Logos: Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology, by Randall Price and Wayne House.

Two new books from the Oriental Institute:

  • Discovering New Pasts: The OI at 100, edited by Theo van den Hout. Purchase ($134). Free download.
  • 100 Highlights of the Collections of the Oriental Institute Museum, edited by Jean M. Evans, Jack Green, and Emily Teeter. Purchase ($80). Free download.

The Times of Israel reviews Jodi Magness’s new book, Masada.

The German Protestant Institute of Archaeology in the Holy Land (GPIA) has produced a catalogue of the exhibition “Tall Zirā’a—Mirror of Jordan’s History.”

In tomorrow’s roundup, we’ll cover tourism, lectures, and videos.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Keith Keyser, Explorator, Jared Clark

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Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Ancient Jerusalem Revealed: The Western Wall Tunnel

I mentioned in my introduction to this book that Ancient Jerusalem Revealed really provides a “who’s who” in modern Jerusalem archaeology. Dan Bahat is another well-known name, having served as district archaeologist of Jerusalem for some years and having written the Illustrated Atlas of Jerusalem. Bahat is also known for his excavations of the Western Wall Tunnel, and this article provides information from more recent work.

The main point that Bahat wants to make in this article is that Amos Kloner is wrong about the dating of the arched bridge that begins with Wilson’s Arch and runs west. All agree it originally dates to the Herodian period and was destroyed by the Romans. Kloner challenged Bahat’s dating to the Umayyad period, proposing instead that was rebuilt in the Late Roman period (AD 70-330). Bahat is back to prove that he was right all along. This debate does not interest me much, so I’m going to move along.

Unlike the Triple Gate article from last week, this chapter has more illustrations. I especially like the one showing the two-story vault structure supporting the bridge, built over a couple of ritual baths with a four-sided mikveh used for the purification of vessels in the foreground. The reconstruction of the Temple Mount in the Crusader era is strange, however: I don’t think that the Dome of the Rock used to be on the northern end of the Temple Mount.

A few other discoveries round out the article:

  • A three-story Crusader building
  • A Roman-era latrine beneath the three-story Crusader building
  • A Hasmonean ritual bath beneath the latrine beneath the three-story Crusader building

Every article concludes with a selected bibliography. This one has six entries, including one by Bahat, two by R. W. Hamilton, and one by Charles Warren.

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